- The Hamptons
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Orange County
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
Altai founder Amaryllis Knight
Stainless steel and leather flasks, handmade in England.
Altai’s minimalist look
L.A. aesthete Amaryllis Knight sets up shop with Altai, a boutique where style and functionality meet.
Marin Preske | Photo: Cameron Gardner | June 26, 2013
Design is a funny thing. On one hand, it’s an aesthetic pursuit based upon looking good; on the other, it’s rooted in the humble aim of functionality. It’s also universal, pervading every part of human existence, from the routine to the extravagant. Perhaps for this reason it has become a profound matter for London-born, L.A.-based interior and landscape designer Amaryllis Knight, who says, “Design is not superficial. It alters how we feel, perceive, function and inter-relate.”
She would certainly know. Since launching her consultancy, Altai, in 2008, Knight has been harnessing the powers of her medium in residences across Los Angeles as well as commercial projects like downtown foodie havens Bäco Mercat and the forthcoming Orsa & Winston. Her talent for creating polished and serene spaces stems from an affinity for peace-evoking environments. “I like spaces that are deeply felt as opposed to design that slaps you across the face,” she explains.
For someone with such an intimate association with design, expanding her practice was a natural progression. Enter Altai boutique. Opened in April as an extension of her studio (literally—it operates in the back), it houses a range of meticulously assembled menswear, furniture and accessories that beckon shoppers to inspect them up close. Among the loot are an oxford shirt featuring hundreds of miniature, hand-drawn fruits by the U.K.’s Casley-Hayford; Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s classic Paulistano chair draped in metal mesh; and a kaleidoscopic pair of Raf Simons high-tops, covered in a ruched floral motif. “I’m interested in designers who have experience when it comes to structure, fabrication and material, yet who express themselves at original levels,” notes Knight, who is also exposing Angelenos to some major imports. Altai has the L.A. exclusive on the above and more, including Issey Miyake’s lighting collection for Artemide.
For the time being, at least on the fashion front, Altai solely carries menswear. “Menswear designers are able to focus on design [instead of] creating a buzz,” offers Knight, who has enlisted Teena Sahebi (formerly of Opening Ceremony) as fashion director. Whether it’s a $30 pair of chunky Anonymous crew socks or a Tim Coppens leather jacket for $2,935, the common denominator is quality. “I believe in everything we have here,” she adds.
Another store exclusive, a global one, is Altai’s furniture, all modeled and fabricated in a workshop behind the boutique. Knight has a proclivity for large-scale pieces, such as her 10-foot marble and aluminum #2013 Laurel coffee table. “I enjoy not being restricted with materials in a way [I] would be if [I was] mass-producing,” she says. Against the boutique’s white-and-gray palette—the only colors Knight used throughout the store—such pieces demonstrate another design doctrine: The simple beauty of a well-made object is enough to brighten your whole day.